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Three years of Lithuania's NATO membership: the myths collapsed


Three-year Lithuania's NATO membership anniversary is on March 29. During the third year of membership Lithuania successfully continued integration into NATO military system, actively contributed to NATO military operations, fulfilled national security and collective defence commitments, developed capabilities necessary for the mentioned tasks.
”NATO membership is one of the key political achievements of Lithuania. The allies appreciate our contribution to building global security and stability. We are an integrate part of NATO and decisions of the Alliance are ours as well," National Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said.
The third year was crucial as a historic step towards NATO military integration. In August 2006 the assignment of the Motorised Infantry Brigade ”Iron Wolf" to the Danish Division was begun. It will significantly enhance interoperability of the Lithuanian Army and NATO military units and their abilities of working together in international operations as well as division level command skills of Lithuanians.
Lithuania actively contributed to enhancement of international security - soldiers successfully continued participating in NATO led international operations in Kosovo, in the mission of training the Iraqi security forces. The mission of the Lithuanian led Provincial Reconstruction Team is one of the most demanding and most complicated initiatives of Lithuania in NATO.
Lithuania with Latvia and Estonia committed to forming a joint battalion-sized combat unit for the 14th rotation of NATO Response Force that is going to be on duty during the first half year of 2010.
Baltic Air Police mission was launched before three years and carried on in the Baltic States. Baltic airspace was guarded by troops from Turkey, Spain and Belgium in 2006, and this week the four-month rotation will be passed over to the French.
Aiming at airspace observation and control enhancement Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia established the joint Control and Reporting centre. The centre established in Karmelava is fully integrated into the joint NATO Airspace Defence System and helps managing NATO fighters on air police mission effectively. In 2006 the Baltic countries agreed upon sharing accommodation costs of military contingents on air police mission.
Reconstruction of the main infrastructure of Siauliai Airfield was finished last year: the main runway was repaired on NATO Security Investment Programme funds.
The third NATO membership year was also important for Lithuanian Navy - mine hunter ”Kursis" (M51) joined NATO SNMCMG1 unit on full right.
International special forces exercise was arranged in Lithuania in order to enhance interoperability of NATO countries' counter-terrorism units.
National Defence Volunteer Force reform was completed during the period of the last three years. Volunteer Force units were reorganised as Lithuania progressed from territorial to collective defence.
Lithuania provided active support for euro-atlantic integration efforts of Ukraine and Georgia, assisted Eastern Europe and South Caucasus countries in completing reforms in security and defence sectors. This year NATO and Russian Council working party for defence reforms and cooperation high officers meeting has been held in Vilnius, it addressed NATO-Russia cooperation.    


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